by Mitchell Kirk
Earlier this fall, a 20-acre land preserve along South River Road west of 600 West was in danger of being closed off due to continuous dumping in the area.
Thanks to the help of local volunteers and the Cass County Highway Department, it looks like that’s no longer the case.
Northern Indiana Citizens Helping Ecosystems Survive, or NICHES, was one of the organizations that assisted with cleanup efforts. According to Ron Haston, stewardship manager for NICHES Land Trust, about 17 volunteers came out to help clean up last fall, many of them local residents.
“It’s done real well,” said Haston. “A lot of people enjoy that place ... We hated to have to think of closing it.”
Haston added that the area has become a popular spot for geocaching, a kind of modern scavenger hunt in which participants use Global Positioning Systems or mobile devices to hide and find containers called geocaches all over the world.
Haston praised the Cass County Catfishing Club and the Cass County Highway Department for their efforts in the cleanup as well.
Cass County Highway Superintendent Jeff Smith said the Department did some dumping of their own – berm dirt in order to create a barrier to prevent people from backing in off the road and unloading trash.
“I think it has helped calm things down as far as dumping,” Smith said.
Brenda Louthain, a Cass County conservation officer, said the negative impacts of dumping near rivers are far-reaching.
“When you’re along a riverbank, there’s a good chance dumped trash gets swept downriver and causes problems for other localities,” she said.
She agreed that the cleanup and work done by the Highway Department was keeping the area clean.
“I think a lot of the problem has been curtailed simply because of what they did.”
However, Louthain said she has been noticing an increase in dumping along the north side of the Wabash River. She said if more people took advantage of the recycling programs Cass County offers, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen as often.
“I don’t know what else they can do,” she said. “Cass County is neat in the fact that they have all these recycling programs. People need to take advantage of those. If they did that, you’d find less of a chance of trash out there.”
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.